The Blog of Jake Kelfer
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I recently posted a survey for a new online networking course called the Sports Networking Playbook that I am creating with one of my mentors and good friends, Sergio Millas.
Something that kept coming up in the responses was getting nervous before a big interview or networking meeting. Knowing from experience, this is definitely a real concern, especially when you are looking for a job, when you are trying to find your next client or when you are putting yourself out there for the first time.
If there is anything you need to remember it's that they agreed to interview you or take your meeting. That means they want to talk with you and hear what you have to offer! Don't ever forget that.
When dealing with people it’s important to know that no matter who you are meeting with or interviewing with, they are human just like you and me. CEOs, executives, professors, recruiters, decision makers, or whomever you are meeting with, all still want to feel good.
Instead of putting someone on a pedestal, treat them just as you would treat your friend. Obviously, be professional and give them respect, but you don’t have to treat them as if they are superhuman. When you have this mindset, you can be more relaxed rather than psyching yourself out.
It’s your job to make someone feel good and you can do this through preparation and a WE > me attitude. You can make them feel comfortable and reduce your nerves at the same time by focusing on research and a mentality of adding value.
They might be the person you are trying to impress or sell, but you have to know that you have something incredible to offer. Even though they might have the decision power over what happens, you have to know that you have more control than you think. You have control over how you prepare, how you treat them, how you act, and so much more that will all lead to great success and new relationships.
Preparation comes into play here because the more you are prepared, the more confidence you have. When you are prepared, you can eliminate some of your nervousness because you will have identified talking points, rehearsed potential answers, and you will know more about a person.
You won’t have the uncertainty of wondering how you can make a great impression or what you might expect.
When I prepare for a speech or workshop, I know that the more I prepare the better I will perform. Every presentation I do is customized to the specific audience I am talking with so I always have to prepare new talking points. When I first started there were times when I wasn’t as prepared as I could have been and I found myself less confident than the times when I was super prepared.
I found that in my situation there was not only a correlation between my preparation and confidence, but my level of preparation and performance. It might seem obvious what I just said in that last sentence, but I think it is important to never underestimate the power of preparation.
When you are going in for that big interview prepared you will be less nervous because you’ve already anticipated what’s to come. When you research your sales pitch, you can predict some questions and how the audience might respond.
Preparation is key to reducing your nerves before a big meeting or interview, but the second way you can really do this is by placing a focus on WE > me. This attitude along with the mindset of adding value is a great way to build relationships.
Before we continue, think about these questions. Why do you get nervous for a big interview, networking opportunity with an executive, or with a client?
Well, we get nervous because we often focus on whether or not they will like us, hire us, or want to continue talking. We make the focus about ourselves and get in our own head so much that we forget these opportunities go two ways. Instead, we need to focus on what can we bring to the table that will make the lives of the person or people we are meeting easier. How can we be of value to them?
Here’s where it gets interesting. You might say, how can I add value to someone when I’m just a student and they are an executive or I’m a new business and they are a huge client? It’s a fair thought, but like I said before everyone has the same basic needs. You might not be able to help your interviewer complete a million dollar deal, but you don’t have to do that. You just have to be authentic, make the conversation enjoyable, smile, compliment the work they are doing, and be sincere.
When you focus on how you can help the person, company, or client, you will stop worrying about your needs and whether or not the deal will close or if you get the job.
For a special networking opportunity with someone you’ve been dying to meet with, speak from the heart and be true to yourself. If you can focus on being yourself rather than trying to impress someone, you can eliminate some of the pre meeting jitters.
We psych ourselves out because we put all this pressure on ourselves to be liked or wanted. Instead, we can do our research and be prepared while approaching the interview or meeting with a positive mindset of adding value.
The next time you have a big meeting or interview coming up, take a deep breath, smile, visualize success, do your research, and know that it’s just two people having a conversation.
If you want to take the survey for the Sports Networking Playbook, click here.